Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 17
We’re living in a day of course where Satan is pulling every stop. I think he already knows that his time is short. Now we know when he’s cast out of heaven at the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Book of Revelation tells us he is also going to pour out his wrath and anger on the human race because he knows his time is short. He’ll know he will only have 3 1/2 years left. And I think he already knows that he doesn’t have a lot of time left even as I speak. One of the stops that he is pulling out, is a confusion of the Scripture. What confusion there is when it comes to teaching the Word of God, and it shouldn’t be that way. God never intended it to be that way. I read the other day where there were over a thousand denominations in America alone. And very few of them agree with each other. So we are confronted with a lot of confusion. One group believes this way, another group believes another way. Well, who are you going to believe? Believe The Book!
I never tell people to go by what I say, and I don’t intend to build a following whatsoever. But we just want to help people see what The Word really says. Now in that light, lets look at Acts Chapter 1. We will be looking at verse 8 – I trust we covered the time element of verse 6 and 7 where the disciples asked Jesus the question:
“…wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” And The Lord’s answer was, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,…” We are trying to show that throughout Scripture God has the prerogative of keeping things secret until He’s ready to reveal them. Now verse 8. He tells them that although it’s not for them to know the times, they will receive something else.
“But ye shall receive power (power is a crucial word in this verse), after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you (and we know this is going to happen in ten days): and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Now I do not like to allegorize Scripture, unless Scripture does it itself. Most of you have heard this verse allegorized to mean that for you and I, Jerusalem would be Tulsa or some other city in the state you live in. Judaea is the state, and Samaria may be the United States. And then to the uttermost part of the earth sounds good for missionary work in foreign lands. And I have nothing against that. That is our prerogative to take the Gospel wherever we can. But that is not what this verse says. This verse says Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and after those three have been completely covered and converted then those Jews were to go to the uttermost part of the earth.
But from what you have been taught throughout the Old Testament, even in the last two lessons, everything that Jesus has been speaking and teaching, and the writings from the Old Testament prophets have been to the Jews and no one else. And they understood that they had no role to play as far as evangelizing Gentiles until they had The King and the Kingdom. And then the Gentiles would flow to Jerusalem as we saw in the Book of Isaiah 2:2. And again in Zechariah Chapter 8:
“Thus saith the LORD of host; `In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you (but not until): for we have heard that God is with you.'”
I will show you in Acts 1 verse 8 is that Jesus could have (we know He didn’t), done as He did in Luke Chapter 4, where he stopped speaking right in the middle of the verse. He could have stopped speaking after the word Samaria, because that is as far as this verse is going to be fulfilled where the Jew is concerned, so read it in that light.
“…and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria,…”
Did the disciples get that far? Why sure they did. By the time you get to Acts Chapter 8 where does Philip go? To Samaria. And Samaria heard the Word. But did the twelve disciples ever go to the nations of the world. Never! I’ve challenged people for over twenty years to show me one time in Scripture that those twelve disciples had a ministry to the Gentiles. They didn’t. Why? Because Israel never fulfilled those requirements of accepting The King, which was required before they could bring Gentiles in. The Old Testament is full of those requirements. But even here in Acts, Peter was still offering them this opportunity. So they had the opportunity even after the Crucifixion, for them to all have repented and be baptized for the remission of their sins in crucifying their King, as we saw that some of them did in Act 2:38. And then The King and Kingdom could still have been set up even at that time. So Peter’s offer was valid, but we know the nation as a whole rejected his offer just like they did Jesus’ offer. We will look at it again in Acts Chapter 3. I alluded to Luke Chapter 4 a few moments ago and I would like for us to look at it. We have looked at this many lessons ago but it won’t hurt to refresh our memory.
“And he (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias, And when he had opened the book, he found (in other words He look for a particular verse that He wanted to read) the place where it was written, `The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of The Lord.'”
Let’s go back to where Jesus read from, and we find that in Isaiah Chapter 61, so let’s compare these two passages. It’s word for word.
“THE Spirit of The Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD (this is where He stopped in Luke and the punctuation was a period), and the day of vengeance of our God (what’s the vengeance? Tribulation); to comfort all that mourn;” And when will comfort all that mourn happen? In the Kingdom. Do you see the progression?
Now when Jesus was reading in Luke why didn’t He finish the verse? Because He knew the rest wasn’t going to happen at that time. He knew the Nation of Israel was going to reject Him again, and He knew there would be 1900 + years where God would be going to the Gentiles with the Apostle Paul’s message based on I Corinthians 15:1-4. But Peter had no idea of any of this as Peter’s message was to the Jew only. Now let’s flip back to Luke Chapter 4 verse 20:
“And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Why? I think they knew what He did with that Scripture. He stopped practically in the middle of the verse. And then look what He said after He sat down.
“…This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Now could He have said this if He had read the whole verse? Of course not, because the last part of that verse in Isaiah hasn’t been fulfilled yet. He knew exactly where to stop. I hope I’ve made my point, so come back to Acts. In Acts 1:8 Jesus could have stopped at the end of the word Samaria, because that’s where it did stop. The Jews and the disciples never did go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Because the nation was rejecting it.
In verse 8, I said the secret word was “Power.” Remember, John the Baptist has said that “Jesus would baptize the Nation of Israel with or into the Holy Spirit,” well here is the purpose: to give them power. I always try to make people think, what kind of power does God have in mind for the Twelve in particular and for these believing Jews who will be coming on the scene in the next few chapters? To carry on where He left off. Now in His earthly ministry, what highlighted almost every day of His experience in those three years? Miracles, signs, and wonders. And what was the purpose?
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
So this was to prove Who Jesus really was. Now as Jesus is ready to go back to heaven and He is now commissioning these eleven men (and there will be one more in short order), what are they to continue? What Jesus had begun. Even though The Messiah has been crucified and has ascended back to heaven, the prospect for the Nation of Israel is still The King and the Kingdom. And the only way to convince them was more signs and miracles. And this is the reason that the Holy Spirit is going to be poured out on these Jewish believers. So they will continue to see the Nation of Israel be converted to a faith in their rejected Messiah. Now come to Chapter 3, so that you can just get a little glimpse of what I’m talking about. They weren’t concerned yet about evangelizing the world. Their chief concern was the Nation of Israel. Because Israel had to be converted to the last man. Here Peter has again presented a sermon in verses 12-18 and he says in verse 19:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted (believe Who Jesus was), that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of The Lord;” Now that’s a semicolon colon and not a period. And so the thought goes on into verse 20. Israel converted, the times of refreshing comes in and then what would God do?
“And he shall send Jesus Christ…”
For what purpose? To be their King! And Peter is saying it as clear as day if Israel would just repent and be converted, then God would send Jesus Christ to fulfill all the Covenant promises that He had made to the Nation of Israel. If you doubt that, then come on down to verse 24.
“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
What days? The days that have just taken place. The appearance of their Messiah, His miracles, His rejection, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His ascension. Now He’s ready to return and Peter says all the prophets laid this out. We saw it in the last lesson in Psalms Chapter 2, all laid out in prophecy. But there’s nothing about the Age of Grace, the Church, as of yet. Nothing about Gentiles being saved by Grace, this is still a secret being kept in the mind of God until Paul.
“Ye (Peter is addressing the Jew only) are the children of the prophets (the Old Testament writers), and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham (see why I keep stressing the Abrahamic Covenant? Everything is resting on that Covenant), And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
“Unto you (the Nation of Israel) first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him, to bless you, in turning away (how many?) every one of you from his iniquities.”
And if every Jew would have responded to this message then The King and the Kingdom could have come on the scene. We know the Tribulation would have had to have taken place but, nevertheless, the Kingdom would have been set up in short order. And then Israel could have evangelized the world by bringing Gentiles to The King. What an opportunity, and they missed it. So what did God do? He converted another Jew, completely out of any prospect for being a man of God. The least likely prospect that you or I would have picked – old Saul of Tarsus. He saved him by grace, outside the land of Palestine, on Gentile ground, took him down into the desert for three years and seminary-trained him with the resurrected Lord Himself as the Instructor. And then sent him to Gentiles with a whole new program. But we’ll come to that later.
Let’s go back to the Book of Mark. This section always raises a lot of questions and controversy, but it shouldn’t if people will just leave it with the Nation of Israel. This is not Church ground at all! I never look for controversy, nor do I like to argue with people. All I do is point out what The Book says, and let the chips fall where they may. Some people will cop out on these verses and say, “Well, it wasn’t in some of the best newer manuscripts.” But you know what? In the oldest and the best ones it is. And we are finding out now that a lot of these so called “best manuscripts” are anything but the best. But these verses are in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts, they belong here, and are not to be omitted. This is Jesus speaking:
“And he said unto them, `Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized (that’s what it says) shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs (now watch this) shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and thy shall recover.'”
It’s so interesting what various groups do with these verses. I heard a preacher one morning, and his text was going to be verse 16. He evidently hadn’t studied very much and read about five words in verse 17 and saw what he was getting into and backed out of that verse like he had run into a buzz saw. And he said, “We’ll stop at the end of verse 16.” Now why did he want to stop there? He wasn’t in agreement with the next verse. Now listen, that is not a valid way to treat Scripture. If you can’t use all of the verse or chapter, leave it alone.Because you are going to get into trouble if you try to split it or leave some of it out. Now there are other groups that like verse 16. And some groups like 16 and 17 but won’t have any part of verse 18. So these groups just stop where it’s convenient. But I’m telling you to leave the drinking of poison or the picking up of poisonous snakes alone.
Now maybe the Kentucky hill people do it, but many don’t get away with it either. It’s not valid, it won’t work, so what are you going to do, force it? No. Just analyze the whole thing and say, “Wait a minute! – this is all part and parcel to Christ’s earthly ministry.” This was appropriate in the Jewish economy, because this is exactly what He had been doing. But it’s not appropriate today, because the Jewish program has slipped off the scene, and something new has come in. And don’t try to force these verses. And it’s that way with so much of the Four Gospels, but that doesn’t mean that you can tear it out and throw it away. Not at all. There are so many applications in the Four Gospels that are just as true for us as they were for the Jew. Same way with the Old Testament. But on the other hand, you’re going to come up against things in the Old Testament that cause nothing but problems.
I remember years ago reading where someone was decrying women wearing slacks. And he went back and used a verse in the Old Testament where it says that a women shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man. Good heavens, what did men wear in Old Testament days? Tunics and robes. They didn’t wear pants. Now what’s the poor woman to do? She can’t wear pants or robes, see how foolish things can get? So we must be discerning and understand when we read in the Old Testament about things God hates: drunkenness, misuse of the widows, corruption among the clergy and priest; does God still hate that? Why sure He does. And that’s appropriate. But when you come to certain things written directly to the Jew under the Law, don’t try to force it. It isn’t for us, you can’t practice that, because we are not under those circumstances. But we can certainly learn from all of this. The mind of God, His righteousness, His Holiness, and all the rest. We have to be so careful how we use the Scriptures.
But for now come back to Acts 1 verse 8 once again. So after the Holy Spirit would come upon them they were to receive power to continue on with what Christ had been doing in His earthly ministry. Remember 1 Corinthians 1:22 “For the Jews require a sign,” Where did the signs and miracles for Israel really begin? When Moses and Aaron went back to Pharaoh. But (and here’s a lesson that some people don’t want to hear), when Aaron threw his rod on the ground it became a serpent, which was an act of God. What did the magicians of Egypt do? The same thing. The only consolation we have is that Aaron’s serpent swallowed up the magicians’ serpents. But listen, they changed the shepherd’s rod into a serpent the same way that Aaron did. And they didn’t do it with God’s power, they did it with Satan’s power. Don’t you sell old Satan short. He hasn’t given up any of his power.
I can remember some of our missionaries coming home from the spiritually dark parts of this old world with their little 8 MM movies. They would show some scenes of some of those witch doctors and it was scary how much power some of them had. Where did they get this power? Not from God. But rather from Satan, and Satan’s power is not diminished one bit. In 1st John Chapter 4, and as we study the Book of Acts, we will be dealing with a lot of this, and I do not ascribe to emotionalism. I think it is detrimental to a Spirit-filled life. Just simply take God at His Word. Look what it says in verse 1:
I John 4:1
“BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Now how are you and I going to try the spirit and see if it’s of God? Line it up with The Book. If it doesn’t line up with The Book forget it, I don’t care how good it looks on the surface. I don’t care how it warms your emotions. If John thought there were a lot of false prophets in his day and time, which was toward the end of the first century, how many more have we got today!